Indian SC strikes down ban on Padmaavat; orders nationwide release


NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court on Thursday stayed a ban on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat imposed by four states, ensuring an all India release of the film on January 25.

The ban was imposed in four states namely Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh and protests against the film’s theatrical release continued despite the film being cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

A bench headed by India’s Chief Justice Dipak Misra also restrained any other state from issuing such notifications and orders prohibiting the exhibition of the movie. The bench observed that the states are obliged to maintain law and order.

“We direct that there shall be a stay of operation on the notification and orders issued and we also restrain other states from issuing such notifications or orders in this matter,” the bench said in its interim order.

The producers had approached the top court challenging the notification and orders issued by four states prohibiting the exhibition of the film.

Governments of Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan had declared that they will not allow screening of the movie. The producers submitted that the movie has undergone changes, including in its title, as suggested by the CBFC.

Asserting that the film has been cleared by the CBFC, the plea has said that the states cannot impose a blanket ban on a film and its screening can be suspended in a particular area or areas on account of threats to law and order, not across the states.

Commenting on Supreme Court judgment, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said, “We got to know about the judgment through the TV. We will get the court decision studied by the law department and further steps will be taken after that.”

He added that the state government will abide by court’s decision. “We respect the court’s decision. Everyone in the country abides by the Supreme Court.”

However, women from the Jauhar Kshatriya Manch in Rajasthan have threatened to perform jauhar or mass self-immolation if the film is released.

“We have been protesting against the release of this film ever since we came to know of it. However, the government did not pay heed to our demands and have decided to favour Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Hence, we have decided that some women will perform Jauhar on January 24. We are not afraid of death,” the head of the committee said.

In Chattisgarh, members of Rajput community have even threatened to burn down cinema halls screening the film.

However, members of the film fraternity have rejoiced at this news.

Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor in lead roles, Padmaavat is based on Mohammad Jayasi’s poem Padmavat. Protests raged across India against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film for allegedly distorting history, a charge the filmmakers have time and time again vehemently denied.